THE SOUTH AFRICAN BOERBOEL (Breed Standard)
The Boerboel is a big, strong, athletic dog. Well-balanced with good muscle development, they should move swiftly and powerfully with an
impressive and imposing countenance. Reliable, obedient and intelligent with a strong watchdog instinct, the Boerboel is self-assured and
fearless, yet perceptive to the needs of the family.
Boerboels are foremost incredibly devoted dogs that form close bonds with the entire family. They are known for being protective when
necessary, without being aggressive in normal interactions. Due to the emotional nature of their bond, Boerboels fare best living as part of the
family. Left to live completely outside and away from their humans, they can become bored and depressed and will likely occupy themselves by
indulging in undesirable or destructive behavior.
Proper early socialization is a must. Quite adaptable and much easier to control as puppies, introducing this breed to a variety of sights,
sounds, species and experiences during the formative months greatly improves their social skills.
Protecting puppies from interactions with aggressive dogs is important in preventing dog aggression. Boerboels tend to carry those experiences
with them and could react in a fearful or defensive manner when presented with similar situations later on in life. Good tempered, well socialized
older dogs are the best teachers, showing the young Boerboel proper play manners and dog communication.
Positive interaction with friendly human strangers cultivates the social aspect of this breed. Some dogs are extremely social by nature and others
are more reserved with new people. The more positive, enjoyable interactions they have, the more they will enjoy meeting new people.
Boerboels are typically very good with children, especially those they share their home with. The entire family should take part in training
exercises to ensure the dog understands that children occupy a higher station in the family’s hierarchy. Children should be taught to respect
and treat dogs with kindness and should not be left unsupervised with any dog.
Developed through the years as a farm dog, a lot of Boerboels do well with livestock, house cats and provide good protection from wild
predators. They are keenly aware of the presence of wild animals. With the right introduction, they will accept new animals into the family and
add them to their list of charges.
Boerboels are a dominant breed and this presents several challenges. They are not really suited for the Dog Park. Care should be taken to
introduce new dogs properly. Boerboels do not respond positively to dominant behavior from other large dogs, particularly those of the same
gender. Puppies are much more adaptable and willing to work within the existing hierarchy.
Careful consideration should be given to gender selection. If a dominant dog is already in residence, choosing a pup of opposite gender is far
more likely to lead to a peaceful household as the Boerboel matures.
It was said that when Egypt was conquered by Assurbanipal, Assyrian dogs were spread to Africa and to the rest of the world. Alexander the
Great also spread the dogs to Europe. From these Assyrian dogs two types were developed, the hound and the mastiff. Hounds were utilized for
hunting activities and the mastiffs were primarily used as guard dogs.
The mastiff was brought to South Africa when Jan van Riebeeck brought a Bullenbijter to the Cape in 1652 to protect him and his family from
unknown dangers. Settlers from other countries also brought along their dogs. This resulted in a lot of in-breeding. A dog would need to be
tough to survive the harsh environment and the dangers of the continent. The African Boerboel is the result of the breeding of these tough
mastiff-types of dogs.
During the Great Trek that started in 1838, the Voortrekkers scattered their Boer dogs to distant farms all over the land. The Boerboel
inbreeding resulted in tougher and stronger dogs. These dogs were developed by the pioneer owners to be loyal, obedient and great protectors
that guard and protect his family. These dogs were also developed to work.
In 1938, the De Beers imported to South Africa a bull mastiff to guard the diamond mines. This mastiff, together with a champion obtained from
the Hottentots, played an important role in the breeding and development of the Boerboel. During the second Boer War in 1902, the Boerboel
was cross-bred with the bull mastiffs and the long-legged bulldogs brought by the Englishmen, resulting into a tougher dog with capabilities to
withstand the rigorous trials of time.
Studying further literature, more dogs have been suggested to be included in the breed and much more recently, but none of these are
substantiated, however the Rhodesian Ridgeback and its descendants is known to have played a significant part, though no sign of a ridge is
any longer present.
In South Africa in the early 1980's, Lucas van der Merwe of Kroonstad, together with Jannie Bouwer of Bedford, started a search for the original
Boer dog. From the 5500 kilometers that were covered, 250 dogs were found. Of these, only 72 were selected for registration. Presently, the
breed is still relatively unknown and considered to be rare. However, in 2006 Boerboel was included in the American Kennel Club Foundation
On January 1, 2010, the South African Boerboel was accepted into the AKC Miscellaneous group and the American Boerboel Club was
designated the Parent Club for the South African Boerboel.
At the February 2014 AKC Board Meeting, the American Boerboel Club became the official parent club for the Boerboel. The Boerboel became
eligible for AKC registration on December 1, 2014, and was eligible to compete in the Working Group beginning January 1, 2015. AKC will
maintain an open registry for the breed until January 1, 2020.